To the Editor:
N. Aaron Troodler, in his column “Can’t We All Just Get Along,” claims Israel’s US Ambassador Ron Dermer collaborated with Speaker of the House Jon Boehner “to the exclusion of his colleagues across the political aisle and without involving the president” in arranging the upcoming speech of Israeli PM Netanyahu before the Congress. Actually, the President was given advance notice, the complaint was that notice was not “Far enough in advance.” A New York Times correction on a previous story which caused the firestorm stated, “He (Netanyahu) accepted after the administration had been informed of the invitation, not before” (NYT, 2/8/15). Your readers might be interested to know that in 2012, when Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on this vital matter, the United States delegation led by then Ambassador Susan Rice were conspicuously absent.
Troodler also states that “the once seemingly unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel seems to have ruptured to a certain point.” Public support for Israel in America in fact remains rock solid. Most in the congress and among the public understand the concerns over the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran.
The rift here stems from long standing differences between the Obama administration and Benjamin Netanyahu as to how to prevent a nuclear Iran. President Obama is ready to sign a “framework agreement” which allows Iran to maintain the centrifuges and nuclear technology it needs to produce a nuclear weapon within months. Netanyahu’s position is that the imposition of strong sanctions in the absence of Iran’s refusal to verifiably dismantle their nuclear weapons program is the only diplomatic path towards preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) reports that there is now evidence Iran has engaged in “research, development, and testing activities” on technologies needed to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has refused to allow the inspection of 11 out of these 12 technologies, most of which are needed to build a nuclear weapon. The IAEA “remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile (NYT, 2/20/15). Iran has already deployed a new intercontinental ballistic missile the range of which “far exceeds the distance between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and Europe” (Jerusalem Post, 1/22/15).
At this critical juncture during nuclear talks again in Geneva, the Obama administration evidently does not welcome an informed and passionate speech by the Prime Minister before the Congress warning the Congress and the entire world of the dangers that a nuclear Iran poses to the security of the United States and the entire world.
Larry Domnitch, Bergenfield
Aaron Troodler, our Political Ponderings columnist, responds:
I stand by my statement. The reality is that Ambassador Dermer absolutely excluded the White House and Congressional Democrats from the planning process and instead chose to work solely with Speaker Boehner to arrange Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech. Whatever notice was given to the White House about the speech was done after the details had already been arranged between the Speaker and the Ambassador. Diplomatic protocol dictates that the White House should ideally have been consulted at the outset. Giving the White House a “heads-up that morning,” which is what Speaker Boehner said when asked if and when he notified the White House, certainly does not constitute adequate notice in a situation involving an official invitation to a foreign leader. In addition, it is important to note that it reportedly was Speaker Boehner, not Ambassador Dermer, who ultimately notified the White House about the Prime Minister’s address.
As far as his second point, I stand by that statement as well. When you have Members of Congress angrily state that they will be boycotting an address by the Prime Minister of Israel, which has historically been the United States’ closest Middle East ally, there is something wrong. When we read reports that the White House may “boycott” the AIPAC conference and not send any senior administration members to what is perhaps the biggest pro-Israel event of the year—that is a sign of trouble. The controversy may stem from a personality clash between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu and their differences of opinion on an array of important matters, but the reality is that when you have the leaders of the United States and Israel feuding, that engenders a sense of distrust and distaste that inherently affects the US-Israel relationship in a negative manner. I did not state that the bond between the two nations is completely broken; I stated that it is somewhat strained, which is indeed the case.
I agree with him that this is an important speech and I clearly stated that I support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress about Iran. My issue is with the planning process and how this all came about. Ideally, the Prime Minister should have been able to address Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat without having to contend with the controversy that has ensued due to poor planning and which threatens to overshadow the substance of his remarks.
To the Editor:
Purim of 1953 should be commemorated in all synagogues one way or another.
The basic background of the Special Purims and that of 1953 (which we call Purim-Stalin) has been described in letters to the editor published on pp. 28 and 32 of JLNJ on March 20, 2014. It concluded with “We should not forget. Especially on Shabbos Zachor. Next Year.”
One of the reasons is expounded in Tikkurei Zohar, which considers that Purim is like Yom Kippur (Yom Kippur/Yom Ki-Purim) and that as the fast and repentance on Yom Kippur are commanded by God, so is the joy of Purim. In Purim-Stalin, millions of Jews around the globe were delivered. Is not it a proper reason to commemorate and celebrate God’s miracle?
If you don’t commemorate it you should tell me: “Alex, we do not give a damn whether you, your family and millions of other (including possibly American Jews) survived or were murdered in 1953. Do not bother us with your insignificant history.” Millions of survivors are insignificant? Tradition of Special Purims can be ignored? Is not it like refusing to honor survivors of the Holocaust or children of the survivors?
Therefore, commemorate one way or another. Login to www.Purim-Stalin.webs.com. Read the short Megillah and comments to it. Maybe recite some parts. Let’s respect God’s miracles and each other. Let’s all be JEWS.
Dr. Alex Rashin
To the Editor:
Tu B’Shvat, a minor holiday celebrating the fruits of Israel came and went. Did any of us make an effort to buy imported foods of Israel? Sure, I was able to buy dates, figs, and pomegranates, but from Turkey and Greece. Some of us were worried about the Jewish laws of Shmittah and Terumah and other laws, but isn’t there anything we can buy to support Israel? Last Sunday I went to a giant supermarket chain store, (Pathmark), to buy Shabbat candles. The two large brands, (Manischewitz and Rokeach), were manufactured in China. How sad.